* CEO pushes for creation of German raw materials company
* Says company could be set up by state and German firms
* Says govt, ThyssenKrupp could take small stake in it
(Adds background, comment)
By Tom Kaeckenhoff and Marilyn Gerlach
DUESSELDORF/FRANKFURT, Nov 12 ThyssenKrupp
(TKAG.DE), Germany's biggest steelmaker, said the government and
German companies should jointly set up a company to buy key raw
materials needed by the industrial sector.
"There is an interest among those in the steel industry for
such a company," ThyssenKrupp Chief Executive Officer Ekkehard
Schulz told reporters on the sidelines of a steel conference on
Germany, which depends on raw materials from abroad to power
its export-driven economy, announced last month a government
strategy to secure access to crucial raw materials and called on
countries to address the issue together at international talks.
German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle has also urged
industrial firms to set up a "Deutsche Rohstoff AG", or German
raw materials company, to find and secure rare earths. But he
also ruled out the state's taking a stake in it.[ID:nLDE6A11TE]
Government sources said Berlin could support the company by
giving state guarantees to its investments.
Worries about the potential for inflation as well as scarce
resources are prompting talk globally of metals stockpiling, but
any such moves by big industrial consumers may aggravate high
prices and increase market risks for companies. [ID:nLDE6A80ZC]
ThyssenKrupp has been complaining about volatile and rising
prices of iron ore and coking coal, which are used in
Mining companies in April ditched an age-old annual
benchmark system for a new scheme that bases each quarter's
prices of iron ore on the average spot market price.
Some analysts in the steel industry expressed scepticism on
the viability of such a company.
"I am not really sure whether this can ever work. Maybe
there is an initiative among major German companies to set up
something, but everybody has different interests," said Kepler
analyst Rochus Brauneiser.
"What politicians can do is to do something like this
electric car initiative, where they have set up a body to
coordinate and bring together those involved in the issue to
make a kind of joint effort," Brauneiser added.
A spokesman for ThyssenKrupp told Reuters that Schulz's
comments were part of a concept now being thrashed out jointly
by Bruederle and BDI German Industry Association.
"It is still at a very early stage. The raw materials here
could be iron ore, copper, nickel and coal for example. It will
not involve rare earth," the spokesman said.
"One of the many things that need to be sorted out too
involves antitrust issues," the spokesman said.
Schulz said the company could be listed on the stock
exchange, with ThyssenKrupp and the government each taking a
minority stake in it.
"ThyssenKrupp would certainly not take a majority stake in
it," Schulz said, adding its shareholding in the central
purchasing company could be in the form of bringing in
ThyssenKrupp's own business of purchasing raw materials.
Salzgitter (SZGG.DE), Germany's No. 2 steelmaker, declined
ArcelorMittal ISPA.AS management board member Michel
Wurth, who attended the conference, told reporters his company
would like to know more of the details of the concept but added
that unlike ThyssenKrupp, ArcelorMittal also owns mines.
(Additional reporting by Andreas Rinke; Editing by Victoria
Bryan and Jane Baird)